Kelly Malec-Kosak, United States

Residency Period: 1 November 2014 - 31 October 2015


Kelly Malec-Kosak is an artist in Columbus OH, and is the Chair of Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art & Design. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts in Oakland CA. Her work has been featured nationally and internationally, most recently in "Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armour to Amulet" at the National Metal Museum and "Reflection: 100 Years of Jewellery/Metal Arts at CCA" in Oakland CA. She has received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and the International Residency in Dresden Germany from the Greater Columbus Arts Council. In 2012, she traveled to Ravenstein, Netherlands to study with Ruudt Peters and a group of international artists. Malec-Kosak's work has been featured in Metalsmith, Humor in Craft by Bridgette Martin, and On Body and Soul: Contemporary Armour to Amulet by Suzanne Ramljak.


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

As higher education continues to evolve and adapt, Kelly finds herself in a unique and frustrating position in her own artistic practice. As the chair of Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art and Design, she has been tasked, along with the faculty, of restructuring the Fine Arts curriculum to better relate and adjust to the changing climate of higher education and art. The tremendous amount of research and collaboration demanded by this, along with her other work and personal obligations, has pre-empted her ability to participate in her art practice in any meaningful way.

During her residency at RFAOH, Kelly has decided to solely focus on this task of restructuring a college art program with a fundamental objective of writing an outstanding and relevant Fine Arts and Crafts curriculum, while also travelling for research purposes to various academic and commercial art sectors. She believes that her on-hiatus endeavour will lead to a new direction in her work and impact her art-making once she returns to it.

Final Report

I would first like to thank Shinobu and Matt for their incredible support - as I mentioned in my post, this residency period came at a time of personal and professional difficulty. I hadn't anticipated either, and Shinobu and Matt would gently guide me back on track with encouragement and reminders. That said, I am sorry I didn't participate as fully as I would have liked. But I appreciated the other artists in the residency, reading their posts and activities.

I started out with the intention of posting updates on reworking a curriculum, and that evolved into writing a new major for our college. I did wind up reaching my goal: the proposal and courses were submitted to our accreditors in August, and I'm still waiting to hear if it's approved. I'm weirdly OK either way - despite the hours spent, I was able to let it go quite soon afterwards. Now that I've had time to reflect, I can think of several things that probably aren't right and need to be reworked. I think, if nothing else, I should learn from this year I shouldn't sweat the little things.

The biggest thing I learned from this period of reflection: it made it clear that I desperately needed to get back to my work. As I looked back over the last three years, I became horrified that I allowed it to slip away - administrative duties, teaching, family all took priority over my work. While I know life ebbs and flows, it became intolerable to me, particularly in the last two months of the residency, that I haven't made anything of significance recently. No investigations, no research for myself, no experimenting. This really hit me the hardest when I started teaching a studio course this fall - I almost dropped out of the residency just to make something. I couldn't take it.

I'm back in the studio, but my idea of studio has changed. It's not a place - it's where/when/how I can make something. I can't set aside hours to work - not at this point in my life. So, I have to adapt. Right now, my studio is a canvas bag, which holds a capezio body suit, black thread, scissors and needles. I'm altering the suit through repetitive stitches, thinking with my hands. I discovered, to my delight, that TSA lets you take needles on airplanes (?) and recently, my studio and I went to San Francisco, where i enjoyed five hours of uninterrupted time, stitching, thinking, tying knots. I still am not sure why or what I'm doing. But I'm making, and I can't ask for more than that.

I think this residency helped me prioritize what I'm doing. I really had to think about why I've done what I've done - and how to change it. I thank you for the opportunity.




recent comments

Faculty evaluations to Art Basel

Thank you for the inclusion in this residency program – as stated in my proposal, much of my on-hiatus activity will be spent on research, collaboration, writing and proposing a new fine arts and crafts curriculum. This has been challenging as the faculty and I have met bi-monthly, gathering data, writing proposals and conversing about what we think the “right” thing(s) to do is/are…

And then Oct. and Nov. hit, and the administration part of the job really took over, with classroom observations, writing faculty evaluations and meeting with individuals. And my desk exploded in paper.

Relief came, however, in a trip to Miami to see Art Basel – this was my first experience, and it was incredible: overwhelming, inspiring, confusing, satisfying. I’m not sure, after buzzing through several fairs, I can say with confidence I can see where contemporary work is headed, but I can say I will process this information over the next several months with colleagues who also attended.


I was particularly interested in the jewelry work at Design Miami – personally, I wanted to engage in that conversation again. I haven’t made wearable work since 2011, and this is the first time the impulse was alive.

Leave a Comment (3)

Mary Kroetsch wrote on Jan 1:

I ask myself the same question regularly, i.e., where is contemporary art work heading? I have a very open mind on all things art, but there are times when I would really like to know what the artist and their colleagues were thinking when something like the piece shown in your first photo from Miami was selected for an exhibition.

I check out the grad exhibition at the Ontario College of Art and Design regularly, primarily to see what art is developing from their Material Art and Design Program, because there is a Textile curriculum. When I talk to the Textile Artists I am always a little disappointed because they seem to by-pass the traditional stitch and go right to the contemporary and installation art projects. I even had a conversation with a student at Sheridan College where I occasionally take a night class just to gain access to the textile studio for my own work, and was amazed the traditional embroidery stitches were talked about, shown in picture format, but the students weren't required to practice.

You need to walk before you run and I believe the same is true in art. Learn how to do the techniques of what was really well and only then will you be successful at breaking the rules and creating a great contemporary piece.

Kelly wrote on Dec 31:

Hi Milena - I loved your comment! I think I consider myself on hiatus because of the lack of making, but your comment strikes home.

milena kosec wrote on Dec 12:

Kelly, are you sure that you are onhiatus?